New to UO dining centers: faculty/staff meal cards
There’s still no such thing as a free lunch, but Dining Services in the University of Oregon’s housing department is doing its part by offering a discount on them for UO faculty and staff.
A new pre-paid meal card program allows UO employees to buy cards that are good for five lunches ($35), 10 lunches ($65) or 25 lunches ($150) at either the Carson or Barnhart dining centers. The price for single lunches – which have long been available to faculty and staff – is currently $7.95.
“Our wide selection of choices and extensive use of local foods in an all-you-care-to-eat setting makes this a great value,” said Tom Driscoll, director of food services for the UO and associate director of University Housing. “I think it is a huge savings, particularly when compared with the local restaurants.”
The per-meal prices of $7 with a five-lunch card, $6.50 with a 10-lunch card and $6 with a 25-lunch card amount to discounts of 12 percent, 18 percent and 24 percent over the dining centers’ single-lunch rate, Driscoll pointed out.
The newmeal cards are redeemable only for lunches, and only on weekdays.
At least a couple dozen faculty and staff currently eat lunches on a typical day in the residence hall dining centers. But Driscoll said the meal card program – which was initiated in response to customer requests – could spark something bigger.
“This has a very small buy-in level so that people can try it out to see how it fits into their work day,” he said. “We hope that (faculty/staff customers) will be introduced to an active, lively environment where they can interact with students in an easy and casual way.”
The meal plan is not available for the general public, and faculty and staff members will be asked to show their UO identification when they purchase meal cards. The cards are available from cashiers at either of the dining centers, or at the Catering and Conference Services Office in the Bean Complex, off East 15th Avenue.
Driscoll emphasized that meals served in the UO’s dining centers bear little resemblance to the “dorm food” that some may remember from their long-ago college days.
Both Carson and Barnhart feature extensive salad bars with fresh local produce – from edamame beans and roasted local beets to scratch-made dressings. There’s a yogurt bar that features locally-produced Nancy’s Yogurt, along with fresh fruit and homemade granola, and soups are made from scratch daily. Other offerings include hearth-baked pizza and daily vegan and vegetarian dishes.
“I think the biggest change in dining (since the ‘dorm food’ days) is the freshness of the foods, the use of local foods and the wide variety of international, vegan and vegetarian dishes we offer,” Driscoll said.